Barrio Lounge

896 Queen St. E.
416-572-0600

Barrio is a laid back lounge and bar where patrons can have a martini, a glass of wine, or even dine on a tapas-style menu of global delights. For those who do not know what”tapas style”-tapas is spanish for “snack-items”. This means that dishes are snack-size portions so you can try many things at once. The problem lies that these dishes are the prices of mains ($8-$10) when they should be $5-$6.

I looked at the one page paper menu (that changes every 3 months) and I only found three vegetarian items. Since mains are served tapas-style, you basically have to order 2-3 tapas just to be full. Rip-off central. I could understand ordering tapas-style if they were normally priced but Barrio has some nerve to charge those prices for tiny portions. I think it’s because the Queen East/ South Riverdale neighbourhood is becoming more and more chi chi poo poo like Queen West and more trendy, upscale restaurants are popping and morons like me are willing to try it and pay retarded prices. Was I ripped off? Decor is really nice. With pale green walls, calm jazzy, pop music in the background, and large photographs mounted on chunky canvasses, this place looks like a hip and modern bistro that would cater to an artsy crowd, probably journalists and writers, and other Queen east hipsters. Tables are close together and the actual restaurant is quite small. Many of the tables are lined up against a row bench that sits against the wall. Pillows and fluffy seat cushions add warmth to the modern design of this “Verveine-style” restaurant.

For my meal, I ordered a salad of roasted beets (red and pink), with arugula, sunflower seeds, in a very light viniagrette with creme fraiche on top ($8). I told them to hold the creme fraiche. Presentation is artistic, funky, and cool. For my main, i ordered the quesadilas with Alex Farms goat cheese (locally produced cheese store), grilled asparagus, and other funky little vegetables ($10). Both dishes were wonderful in terms of flavours, textures, aromas, and taste, but portion size sucked big time. My friend ordered braised chicken with green lentils ($10). It was served in a small cereal bowl. Quite laughable to say the least. He also ordered the same salad but he had the creme fraiche. I think creme fraiche is like whipped cream but it’s not sweet. Sound gross. Some vegetarian items to note : artichoke hearts in a garlic mayo, safron rice croquettes (rice cakes) in an eggplant caviar, and a selection of breads with Fred’s dips. Other items worth noting include popcorn shrimp with cocktail sauce and creamy dill dip, pork ribs with potato salad ($10), smoked trout with vinegary tapenade ($12), seared scallops with leeks ($12), and grilled strip loin frites ($12).

It is easy to order 4-5 dishes, thus making the dining experience quite expensive. Sunday’s “prix fixe” menu with 3 choices -one complete table d’hote for $19, and two table d’hote options for $23. Sunday “prix fixe” change weekly depending on what is in the market that day. Thank goodness for Sunday dinner where you can a real meal for a normal price. Although staff were very helpful and friendly, service was quite slow, portion size was pathetic and my diet coke was $1.75 and was filled with ice.  Accepts all cards. Open quite late

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Kubo Radio [brunch]

894 Queen St E
416-406-KUBO (5826)

web site: www.kubo.com

Set in Leslieville at Queen and Logan, this hip and trendy Pan Asian eatery certainly did not
appear to be serving brunch. It looked too much like a bar. However, when Aaron asked me to brunch last week, he told me “let’s go to Kubo Radio”. I checked out the web site and i remembered from my last visit that they also serve brunch.

It also helps that there is graffiti on the glass windows advertising their brunch. Luckily, the messy writing on the glass windows are done with washable marker. I think the advertise their dinner and brunch and the writings change daily.

As indicated above, Kubo Radio serves Thai dishes as well as other Pan Asian meals for the urban and funky modern hipster in Leslieville. I did not know what to expect to be served so it was an adventure. I did notice that Kubo Radio does serve traditional favourites like eggs, wraps, sandwiches, cereal, dim sum, and a variety of exotic juices and herbal teas.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a super friendly and laid back waitress. We were served shot glasses of mango juice (YUMM) and free appetizers of little “smurf size” blueberry muffins with a raspberry confit. I found those dishes to be quite cute and creative. I enjoyed my dining experience last time, but I was already enjoying my brunch experience as well.

I also noticed a yummy dish which comprised thick French cut toast with chocolate spread and bananas. They also serve a variety of veggie and non-veggie wraps and, like any brunch place, they serve organic granola with smashed fruit, mint, and yogourt. Trying to be on the somewhat creative side, i opted for the huge portion of steel cut oatmeal ($6.95) with raisins, grated ginger, brown sugar, and slivered blanched almonds. What a hearty plate. After running 32 km that morning, i was starving and that dish was perfect. Aaron ordered the Eggs Foreign-Tee- poached eggs on an English muffin w/spinach/ham/kubodaise ($9.95). He thought that it was OK but missing some spice. They offered some spicy sauce but he regretfully did not take it.

Decor and design is ultra modern and slick. Restaurant has clean lines and is minimal in design. Only accepts cash and VISA but no Interac. Dim Sum is not veggie friendly and there are only 3 veggie dishes but the oatmeal rocked. I understand that Kubo Radio also identifies itself as a pub but i must admit the whole ambiance is really stained with the 2 cheesy TV screens above the tables.